Some people hear voices. The voices tell them to walk out into oncoming traffic. Jump from bridges — although this may be a case of keeping up with their friends. Rob stores and banks. Cheat on their lovers. Bad things like that. My voices tell me to go to whatever restaurant is in view, request a seat, order something tasty from the menu, and enjoy. I am not schizophrenic. I swear I am not. But the constant whispering can be a bit problematic — in the form of weight gain and a need to buy clothes to accommodate my widening. And far be it from me to complain about that.
A perfect Saturday. No clouds in the sky. No humidity. No heat making Hell feel like it may not be so bad of a place after all. Do not even fix your lips to ask me how I know what Hell feels like. I work there Mondays through Fridays, so we will leave it at that. Nevertheless, it was a perfect day for riding my bike, and for me enjoying Chicago before I leave the country and all of Chicago’s ethnic restaurants for a month while I enjoy Australia for a personal holiday. And there were the voices after about an hour of pedaling. Park your bike, Gino. There is a restaurant across the street and you want to eat. Yes, you do. Do not fight it. Go and feed yourself. In a rather wicked way, I hate admitting that I have no willpower. But I am a willing puppet to the voices when it comes to food. Since I was across the street from 4609 N. Lincoln Avenue in Chicago’s Lincoln Square, I complied. Thanks to the voices, I found myself putting my feet under a table at Mediterranean Grill.
In the spirit of independent restaurants, Mediterranean Grill panders to the palate of those who love such restaurants. I sat near a window so that I could watch the world in motion — and so that I could be at some distance from a few patrons who were loud and incredibly busy getting stuffed. With menu in hand, I quickly surveyed the options and spotted a few items that I figured would please the voices.
Because this was a Mediterrean restaurant, hummus was a mandatory item for me. Going to all of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurants in Chicago, ordering hummus is my way of trying to find the one eatery that does hummus just right. The hard thing is that all of them have been outstanding. Mediterranean Grill was spot on with their hummus. While many restaurants douse their hummus with olive oil, there was just enough on the hummus at Mediterranean Grill and that was something I found to be more enjoyable because there was just a hint instead of it being a competing flavour. The voices started expressing how pleased they were.
I did something that I imagined shocked the waitress. I ordered two schwarma sandwiches. Now, one may think that a schwarma is manageable and easy to devour while leaving room for additional edible items to gobble. One schwarma I ordered was a barbecue chicken schwarma. The barbecue was not Kraft or Heinz. Believe me when I say that. It was absolutely mouth watering and the hot sauced that came with it made it that tastier. The other shwarma was a vegetarian potato chop, which had spiced mashed potoes, lettuce, and tomato. It also came with a spicy hot sauce and a tangy yogurt for dipping. Yummy. Tasty. Delicious. Delictable. Touch my food and I will beat you good. The voices were so loud with their appreciation that others in the restaurant were looking at me with great suspicious. Actually, I was humming while eating and making statements like, “Oh, my God, this is so blinking good.”
Because both schwarma sandwiches were rather filling, I ate half of each and got the other halves bagged for later. So when the voices start telling me to get out of bed in the middle of the night and do something to shut them up, I will only need to walk to the refrigerator and warm up the schwarmas for my midnight moment of food rapture.
The fantastic thing about independent and small eateries is that the prices are never anything close to what you get when you go to restaurants with flash and fare. Lord knows there are more than enough of those club style restaurants where you feel underdressed sitting next to some Abercrombie in his creased suit and a Barbarella in a revealing dress and five-inch heels pushing morsels around on plates three-fourths the size of the tables where they are sitting. The bill was way less than what I expected. I paid more because I left a hefty tip for the waitress who was quick on refills of water, bread, and asking if everything was in perfect order for me. Of course, the voices screamed, “Yes,” while I simply stared at her with a stupid smile.
You have to try out Mediterranean Grill. You have to run the whole circuit of Middle Eastern and Mediterrean restaurants in Chicago anyway. I know that my jump into becoming primarily vegetarian introduced me to the cuisine and I have been pleased beyond all recognition. Even for those who enjoy meat in your diet, you still will not go wrong feasting on something from the other side of the world.
And while I am being so obedient to the voices, I need to tell them to stop calling me a food slut and reminding me that I have no backbone when it comes to obeying the call to getting fed good ethnic food.